The Essential Hospital Bag
If you have IBD, it’s inevitable that at some point, you will wind up in the hospital. Some stays might be for a few hours, some a few days, and for the unlucky ones, a few weeks or months. Regardless of how long you are in the hospital, there are some essentials to take with you to ensure that your patient’s stay, and subsequently yours, is as pleasant as a stay in the hospital can be.
I’ve come up with a list based off of what I’ve brought to the hospital the three times Dan has been hospitalized. Obviously, everyone has different interests so this list can be modified to fit anyone’s needs.
For the patient
What you will need with you at the hospital for the patient depends what they are in for. The things I brought for Dan while he was in the hospital with an E.Coli infection are totally different then what I brought him after his surgery. Here are some basics that can be used for any stay:
- Magazines and books
- Comfortable pajamas (loose-fitting ones if its for post-surgery)- double points if they are ridiculously silly ones
- A deck of cards or travel-sized board game
- Gameboy/Nintendo DS
- iPad or another similar piece of technology
- iPod and headphones
- Stuffed animal
A note on the stuffed animal: this isn’t an actual necessity. When Dan and I started dating and he had his first colonoscopy, I started a tradition of bringing him a stuffed animal after every procedure. To date, he has received a bear (named Becky Bear), a Yankee dog from Build-A-Bear, Big Bird from Sesame Street, a big-eyed Beanie Baby, and most recently, for his surgery, a miniature stuffed version of our dog Bomber. It helps keep his spirits up and is a little joke between us (especially since he’s 27 years old).
For the caretaker
This is a little more complicated. As someone with anxiety, I have a great need to keep myself occupied when I am in the hospital, no matter what its for. If I have too much free time, my anxiety gets the best of me. That being said, I tend to bring a lot of things that might not be necessary for the average, non-anxious caretaker. Here’s what I typically have with me when Dan is in the hospital:
- List of doctor’s phone numbers, medications, and allergies
This first one is CRUCIAL for any caretaker. It is absolutely essential to have all the pertinent information written down in case your loved one is incapacitated and cannot answer for him or herself. A lot of hospitals have free wallet-sized cards that you can fill in with medications, doctor’s numbers, and other information like this one from the UConn Health Center.
- Insurance card (another crucial item to have at all times- I even carry it with me when I go out to bars at night in my clutch)
- Laptop and work (for a longer stay)
- Picture of our dog (Dan doesn’t like to be away from him for long periods, so when he’s admitted, its the only way he gets to see him for a few days)
- Extra blanket or clothes for those frigid hospital rooms
- Knitting/crocheting (to keep my hands busy)
- Phone charger
- Snacks (preferably ones your Crohnie won’t be tempted to eat)
- Toiletries (if staying overnight)
Obviously this list isn’t complete- it’s just made up of what I’ve found helpful previously. It honestly doesn’t matter what you bring with you as long as you and your loved one are comfortable during the time you are spending in the hospital. I just try to make Dan feel as “at home” as possible by bringing lots of things from home while we are spending time in such a depressing, dreary place.
What do other people tend to bring with them to the hospital? Let me know below!